"Bergamo Mola Mia!" (Bergamo, don't give up!) The Lombard city has been horribly hit by the coronavirus and the slogan has been posted everywhere, even on a t-shirt brandished by Atalanta players, worn by an entire city in the Champions League. It was March 10 and "the Dea" had just won 4-3 in Valencia to validate its qualification for the quarterfinals of the Champions League. The disease was already very present in Lombardy and was causing its first damage. After the victory, Ilicic, Gomez, Zapata, Caldara and the others regroup and show off the famous t-shirt in front of the cameras, with these few words and this expression in the local dialect. “Bergamo is for you. Mola mia! "
The club for its part immediately sends a message on social networks asking the tifosi not to meet, not to celebrate victory together. There are too many risks. In fact, it is mostly too late. Lombardy was the first to suffer the wave of Covid-19 and this industrious and hard-working region has become the epicenter of a global health crisis, "a kind of immense Chernobyl watched with terror and suspicion", as it wrote Monday the Gazzetta dello Sport . The latest assessment from the Italian authorities shows more than 35,000 dead in the country, including nearly 17,000 in Lombardy. The province of Bergamo was, along with that of Brescia, the most affected. According to the latest counts, excess mortality in the city and its province has reached nearly 7,000 deaths.
In March, the situation was so dire that local crematoriums could no longer keep pace with the deaths. Coffins were piled into churches and military trucks were mobilized to take them away. “Our training center is next to a hospital. Ambulances passed every two minutes. We would have thought we were in a country at war, ”said club coach Gian Piero Gasperini. "These are images that shocked the world but which gave the measure of what was happening in this fantastic territory", for his part declared the president Antonio Percassi to the local daily Eco Di Bergamo , whose obituary exceeded the 10 pages at the height of the crisis. “This territory has been devastated, from all points of view. But everyone was able to react, ”added Percassi, a wealthy businessman from the region who was himself an Atalanta player.
"I will be reborn, you will be reborn"
The club participated in this recovery. The players and management have increased donations to help build a field hospital, to which tifosi groups have also contributed, financially and with their arms. Gradually, the wave ebbed. But the virus had found favorable ground in the region: a recent serological study showed that in the province of Bergamo, 24% of people tested had antibodies. In some areas, the figure exceeds 40%. Football has also regained its place, without supporters, who still cannot "return to Atalanta". But before each match, the notes of “Rinascero, Rinascerai” (I will be reborn, you will be reborn), a song composed during confinement by Roby Facchinetti, a musician born in Bergamo, resonate at the stadium.
READ ALSO: Gasperini: "Atalanta Bergamo can succeed in containing Neymar"
READ ALSO: Alejandro Gomez, the slacker who became king of Bergamo
“The situation has improved significantly. Right now we have very few cases, 15 out of 22,000 tests done. In terms of health, the emergency is over. There is a risk for the autumn but we are serene, judged Saturday the mayor of the city Giorgio Gori, questioned by the Gazzetta . Gasperini, he knows how much his players and the city are now united by a traumatic common experience. "Of course, the team is linked to the suffering of Bergamo and that will accompany it on the ground," he said in June before the resumption of Serie A. "More than in the league, I expect find that extra energy in the Champions League, for an exceptional adventure. This city deserves an extraordinary joy, ”he added.
- The offensive hydra of Atalanta Bergamo